When I woke up today to yet another cloudy, drizzly morning, I thought about my struggle over the past several years with this. My husband once joked about it saying, “Gaye, do you look out the window in the morning to see what kind of day you’re going to have?” He knew me so well! It was along that time that we started realizing how much the weather affected me.
We began noticing about five years ago that I struggled with depression only in the winter. At first I thought it was the cold weather, but then I realized I was fine with the cold as long as the sun was shining. It was the consecutive cloudy days that got me down.
I learned there is a name for what I was feeling. It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is described as a depressive disorder with seasonal patterns. A clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, Norman E. Rosenthal, gave this condition a name in 1984. While this mostly affects people in the fall and winter, in rare cases, it also affects people in the spring and summer.
The winter symptoms can include social withdrawing, little energy, more sleeping, carbohydrate cravings resulting in more weight gain, and depression. The spring/summer symptoms are almost the opposite in that along with the depression there is more anxiety, weight loss, and insomnia.
In the United States the percentage of people having this disorder in the winter ranges in Florida from 1.4% to people in Alaska 9.9%. Since moving to Florida isn’t an option for everyone, unlike my Aunt Penny who braved many winters in Wisconsin before moving to sunny Florida, I’d like to offer some tips that have helped cheer up many a gloomy day for me.
- Keep the lights on
I have little lights on my mantle, running along the top of my kitchen cabinets, and on plants throughout the house. They give a cozy appearance and cheer me up.
- Get out in the sun
When the sun does appear, try to soak it up. Even if it is cold, wrap up and absorb some vitamin D. The bright light and warmth helps my mood.
- Crank up the fireplace
My husband had grown up having family Christmas get-togethers at his great Uncle Walter’s house in Georgia. There was a huge fireplace in this home always burning when he arrived in December. He never forgot the happy memories made around those cozy fires. So when we had the opportunity to build an addition to our home in 2007, David designed a rock fireplace similar to his uncles. During the winter months, we have had a nice fire going most evenings. I noticed I didn’t dread winter nearly as much after that.
- Burn candles
Please forgive me all you fire fighters out there! I enjoy smelling apple cinnamon or spice candles. The aroma and little light a candle puts off just cheers me up. Just be sure you have the candle in a safe place and blow them out before bedtime!
- Try to cheer up someone else
When I’m not too chipper, the last thing I want to do is give to someone else. When the emotional tank is dry, it is hard to even think about trying to help someone else. But I have found that when I try to make someone else feel better, I feel better myself. Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) Sometimes that is exactly what it takes to get out of a funk.
Many people comment that they are too tired to exercise. I can understand that. When my husband and I took chemotherapy and radiation, we both felt the effects of exhaustion in a way we had never felt before. But we both pushed ourselves to take walks when we would have rather rested. As a result, we actually had more energy. While there is a time to get proper rest, we shouldn’t neglect exercising either. There are some studies that have actually proven that exercising can give you more energy than resting when you are tired. The results may vary depending on the reasons for your low energy though.
- Hang a bird feeder
I like to hang bird feeders outside my kitchen windows. It cheers me up to know I’m feeding our fine feathered friends on cold days. They are fun to watch. As I watch them I often think of Matthew 6:26…
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
- Play some soothing music
Saul, in the Old Testament was comforted got in a better mood as a result of David playing the harp. Good music can have such a positive impact on our mood.
- Claim God’s promises
God’s Word, The Bible, can give us strength and motivate us in a way nothing else can.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished (equipped) unto all good works.
We can’t make the sun shine on a cloudy day. Only God can. Although it may be dreary looking outside, the Son of God can shine brightly in our hearts. God’s word can do that for us.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
We can’t always remove our problems, but we can strive to understand them and do what we can to make the best of things.
I hope this has helped in some way. I’d love to hear your comments! Have a sunny day in your heart!
Keep looking up,